Last time I wrote a game recap it was Wednesday and the Timberwolves had just defeated the Brooklyn Nets in an impressive fashion. I gushed in the opening paragraph about the brightness of the Wolves immediate and long-term future. What can I say? Things were looking, well, bright.
Then Ricky Rubio sprained his left ankle.
As things are now, Rubio is out for an indefinite period of time. Some say three weeks, others are saying he could be out for two months. One thing is for certain: we could have used him tonight against Miami. (Captain Obvious alert!)
Without the magic unicorn (check the blogs–that’s what they cool kids are calling Ricky these days) the Wolves sputtered out of the starting gate, and the Heat were right there to take advantage.
The Heat didn’t just outplay our Wolves in the opening quarter, they dominated them. Their 8-2 start turned into a 14-2 outburst, and eight minutes into the frame the Heat were up 25 to 9. Our Wolves looked like they needed a cookie.
By the end of the first the Heat scored 29 points on a sizzling 72% from the field. The Wolves managed a measly 13. It was a pathetic opening display from a Wolves team that I had declared “impressive” only a few short days ago.
It got worse before it got better. During the second, the Heat ballooned the lead to 20, and it looked like the Wolves were going to get blown out of the water. Then by some small miracle, the Wolves put together a 14-6 run of their own in the final minutes of quarter, getting themselves back into the game and putting the Heat within striking distance. 53-41, the Heat led at the break.
The Wolves came out with renewed vigor in the third quarter, but their early second half efforts were foiled by Dwyane Wade and Miami’s continued hot shooting. Pekovic gathered 7 quick points to start the quarter, but Wade answered right back with 9 of his own. The Wolves increased effort in the third was a promising sign that they were ready to put the Rubio injury behind them, but Miami kept pace, and the score was 80-69 going into the fourth.
The Wolves finally made their big push in the final frame behind the energy and scoring of Shabazz Muhammad, who had 13 points in just over 11 minutes, and the clutch shooting of Kevin Martin. Martin was scoreless for the first three quarters but hit two three-pointers to bring the Wolves within four.
But in the end Chris bosh and Dwyane Wade proved too much for our Wolves. Bosh who had gone cold in the first half, hit five consecutive shots to start the second half, and his tough baseline shot over Pekovic in the final minutes put the Heat up six, 96-90. On their next possession, the Heat went to Wade, who split between Andrew Wiggins and Pekovic before throwing down an emphatic dunk that put the Heat up eight and put the Wolves on ice.
The Wolves fall to 2-4, while the Heat jump up to 4-2 on the season.
While the future is still undeniably bright for the good guys, this epic road trip is becoming more grueling with each passing game.
Next up: The Houston Rockets in Mexico City on Wednesday.
- Zach LaVine showing poise in first professional start. Zach isn’t the most popular guy on the online forums right now. Grumpy fans have been bashing him for his youthful inexperience, his goofy sound bites, and his haircut among other things. Because Zach has been such an easy target for the cynics among us, many just assumed that he’d be wildly out of control as a starting point guard–but that just wasn’t the case tonight. LaVine wasn’t awesome, but he wasn’t terrible either. In 26 minutes he only had two turnovers, and he did a bit little stat stuffing: 5 points, 6 boards, and 4 dimes. Not too shabby.
- Hot Hot Heat. Miami was hot in the first half from everywhere on the floor. Six players, including all five starters, scored at least five points in the first 24 minutes, and as a team they shot 59% from the field and 63% from three in the half. They cooled down to finish at 53% for the game, but the opening burst proved potent enough as the Wolves were never quite able to close the gap.
- Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on a Mission. LeBron is gone, but Bosh and Wade appear to be doing just fine without him. Tonight, the two stars combined for 49 points on 20 of 37 from the field, and each showed that they both still have the goods to get Miami back to the playoffs. Now, if only they can stay healthy…